Lord of the universe, as we end one year and begin another, we ask that you hear our pleas on behalf of those behind bars.
Prisoners will lose loved ones in the year to come. Even though they will not be privileged to experience the physical closeness of friends and family in their time of grief, we pray that they may not only feel your presence, but also your comfort and your peace.
We know of your compassion for those whose minds were troubled. We know how, in Bible times, evil spirits were ordered to depart from the bodies of the mentally challenged. As we look to the new year, we ask you to do the same for those troubled souls behind bars who are not able to think clearly and respond correctly. In addition, halt those inmates and staff members who would harm them or do further damage. Instead, cloak their caregivers in a garment of compassion and concern.
Lord Jesus, may the women behind bars feel the same warmth and love that you showed to your dear mother, and friends Mary and Martha. In 2016, we pray that the women in our prison may be granted their personal, private space in a facility where conditions now are seriously overcrowded. May fellow inmates be tolerant of each other in these difficult times. May staff members reach a new level of sensitivity and kindness. May administrators climb to new heights to improve conditions for women in prison. In the new year, may these women receive more than enough personal hygiene products, more than enough hot water, and may their lives be brightened by friendly caregivers and sparkling clean showers.
May elderly prisoners escape from the fear of personal attacks in prison next year. Place a shield of protection around the sex offenders, the geriatric lifers, and the mentally challenged misfits. Protect them from persecution and attack by predators and gang-bangers, but also from abusive guards and staff members.
You know that the vast majority, perhaps up to 90%, of inmates will not receive a visit this year. May more kind people than ever before take a moment to visit a prisoner, and where there are no human visits, may your presence be felt in those lonely cells.
Your presence is needed in those cells, Lord. As we begin the new year there are those whose families have either passed on or moved on, and are now alone. There are those who can no longer be convinced that the courts are just, and can find no hope. There are those who have done their best, who deserve to be released, who have served their time, and still cannot even generate any interest. And then there are those who remain angry and troubled, who lash out at fellow inmates and staff, cause problems because they can, and have no qualms about hurting others. Calm their minds and their souls. Divert their plans to traffic in alcohol, drugs and sex. Help them to see that there’s a better way than that of the gangs, and that there is no superior race.
It’s not easy to be sick or injured in prison, and we ask that you remember those with medical and physical concerns today. Where there is pain, grant relief when medication may be scarce or non-existent. Where there is suffering, bless not only the inmate but also the caregivers. In this new year, give all medical personnel in our prisons a generous measure of understanding and compassion.
There are many behind bars who love you, Lord. They spend time thinking of you, speaking with you, and praising your name in worship. Protect them from persecution and ridicule. Wrap them in your everlasting arms. Help them, also, to avoid ridiculing and condemning those whose beliefs are different.
And for those of us on the outside, give us the insight to see that placing young people in adult prisons, excessive sentences, death penalties, mass incarceration, and the use of solitary confinement do nothing to reduce crime, but instead make existing problems even worse. We ask your specific new-year blessing not only on the prisoners, but also their families and loved ones, those entrusted to care for them, and those people and agencies advocating for them.
We close this prayer claiming your promises and believing that your miracles continue to occur, and can even take place in this dark and bleak environment. In fact, we pray for them in the year to come.
Hear our prayer, O Lord!